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Discipleship Faith Formation Ink Slingers Patty

Unbound Sponsorship–A Love that Crosses Oceans

Shaliesh from India.
Shaliesh in 2004, as a child in India.

It was shortly before Christmas 2003 that I heard of the Christian Foundation for Children and Aging, now called Unbound. At the time, I was a single mother with five children and a mortgage, who made less than $30,000 per year.

When it comes to charities, I’m fairly discerning. So many charities end up putting as much if not more money into “administrative costs” than into actually helping the cause. So I was impressed when I researched Unbound and found that 92% of donations go directly into program support. Currently 92.5% goes to programming, with another 4.3% toward fundraising and an astoundingly minuscule 3.2% for administration.

From Humble Beginnings

Unbound started in 1981 when four siblings and two of their friends decided to not just raise awareness of the poverty in Latin America, but do something about it. Guided by their faith, they created a sponsorship program first for children and then later for the elderly, too. Four years in, they had 1,000 sponsors; currently 260,000 sponsors support approximately 300,000 poor children and elderly people around the world.

When it first occurred to me to begin donating to Unbound, I had a family meeting with my children. At the time, we were in the habit of going out about twice a month to a restaurant, which ran about $25-$30 each time. I asked my children if they would be willing to give up one of those outings so we could sponsor a child. I informed them our money would provide a child with basic necessities and assistance so he or she could go to school.

12394813_10154032598474156_1866870913_oI’m proud to say it was a short conversation. My children were enthusiastic about the idea of having a sponsored brother or sister. I contacted Unbound, and told them to just pick a child for us; I left it in God’s hands that we would be matched with one we could truly help. In February of 2004, we began sponsoring Shailesh, a young boy from India. He was just a bit younger than my second child, Daniel, who was 12 at the time.

For more than a decade, we’ve received letters several times a year from Shailesh in his native tongue, which were interpreted in India and then forwarded to us. He would talk about his family, how he was doing in school, and even the weather when it became extreme. He would request our prayers while thanking us for our help. The letters were always accompanied by a picture he drew; I loved and treasured each one and we all eagerly looked forward to them.

Shailesh wasn’t just our sponsored child, he was part of our family. We wrote back to him and sent him pictures so he could have more than just a vague awareness of us. Once a year, Unbound would send a new picture of Shailesh and some years his family was included in the photo, too! He would share his dreams and achievements with us. As the years passed and my own children grew up, I also watched Shailesh grow, as you can see in the progression of pictures in this article. 

In 2009, I requested that Unbound match me with a girl from India, too. I understood how little females are valued in India and I wanted to make a difference in the life of at least one girl there, to give her a chance to be more than what Indian society dictates she should be. Unfortunately, my sponsorship of Sony ended in January of 2011 because her family did not continue to meet Unbound’s requirements for sponsorship. 

My Adopted Indian Son

12395186_10154032598644156_738476711_nIn 2010, I married my husband, Frank, and my children and I moved from Kansas to Wyoming with a newborn baby girl we named Clare. I didn’t anticipate having trouble finding a job in Wyoming as a nurse, but I was wrong. My husband and I had a conversation about finances and I told him that while there were many things I was willing to give up, my sponsorship was not one of them. Fortunately, he agreed and we’ve continue to sponsor Shaliesh. 

In the interim, Unbound made it possible to send letters to the person you sponsor online! That was wonderful for a woman whose biggest challenge in sending letters was getting to the post office five miles away.

A few years ago, I received two letters from priests that knew Shaliesh. He was very, very ill and the illness was not just affecting his body but also his mind. They did not know if or when he would recover enough to return to school. We worried and prayed for him. I was overjoyed when about six months later I finally received a letter from Shaliesh that announced he was back in school and working hard to catch up.

My eyes tear up when I think of Shaliesh and how hard he has struggled to be where he is now. He shared with me earlier this year that he hopes to become a doctor. I am so, so proud of him! I will rejoice if he does become a doctor and I will be equally happy if he chooses a different occupation, too. I would love to hear one day that he has married and is raising his children in the faith. Even though he is in his 20’s now, I will continue to have the privilege of sponsoring him as long as he is in school. I hope that once my sponsorship ends I will still be able to communicate with him. Perhaps one day, I may even meet him in person. Should God allow that day to arrive, I will tell Shaliesh that he is not just my sponsored child, but is a child of my heart, too.

I encourage you to pray and see if you can fit in your budget the cost of changing the life of an impoverished child or adult. Don’t just talk to your children about helping the less fortunate~involve them in this, make it something they contribute to in some tangible way. Let Unbound help you “feed the hungry, clothe the naked, and give drink to the thirsty.” I’ve sponsored Shaleish for nearly 12 years. Yes, we’ve helped him. But my family and I are the blessed ones in this relationship. Please join us, even if it means giving up a meal or two out on the town or a few paper cups of that overpriced coffee. You won’t regret it.

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Shaliesh may want to become a doctor. Whatever God’s plans are for him, I know he’ll prosper.

For more information about sponsoring an impoverished child or adult through Unbound, visit the organization’s website here. 

Categories
End of life Ink Slingers Offering your suffering Patty Pro-Life Issues Respect Life Spiritual Growth

Three Deaths, Many Lessons

 

broken chains

I’m sure that non-Catholics find it more than a little odd that we believe there can be merit to suffering.  The history of the Church is rich with tales of suffering, both voluntary and forced, endured by saints beginning with the early martyrs to present day saints such as Padre Pio and Pope John Paul.

Suffering has the ability to purify the soul, unify us with the suffering of Christ, and unite us with our fellow Catholics here on earth and those suffering in purgatory.  The good that can be done by offering up suffering for our loved ones and those who have passed before us is boundless.

I haven’t experienced much suffering myself other than labor with my children and several horrible toothaches.  Overall, God has not seen fit to gift me with much pain. I have however, known the pain that comes with the deaths of immediate family members. These experiences have forever changed the way I perceived them and perceived the experience of dying.

 

cancerI was a senior in high school when my mother called me and told me that she had kidney cancer.  Fortunately, surgery seemed to have caught it in time.  Four years later when I was 23 and the mother of two young sons aged 4 and 3 months, she phoned me to tell me that she had brain cancer. It had metastasized to both her heart and lungs and they were expecting that she had less than six months to live.

My relationship with my mother was…unusual.  Due to neglect on her part, my father gained custody of my two younger brothers and me when we were very young. We had a sporadic relationship growing up because we only lived in the same area for a few years.  As an adult I realized that my mother probably had many emotional wounds of her own stemming from childhood which made it virtually impossible for her to mother in a healthy, normal manner.

When I received that call at 23 and she relayed to me what was essentially her death sentence, I had no idea how to react. During that conversation she sobbed, broken and lost.  She had been suffering debilitating headaches for months and finally knew the cause. I didn’t know how to console or reassure her.  I was as useless to her as the phone in my hand.  A few weeks later we spoke again.  I couldn’t believe the change in her.  She was now facing her death with courage.  There were no tears; she knew what was coming and was determined to face the inevitable with grace.  And she did just that.

My mother showed admirable traits in her last few months that I had never seen in her prior.  I had so many negative memories of my mother, but at the end she gave me the greatest gift- seeing her face her pain, overcome fear, and patiently wait for her time to meet God.   She died peacefully less than a day after I went to see her for the last time.

pattyEleven years later my youngest brother Tim, only 31 years old, called me to tell me he was fighting multiple myeloma. At the time I was living in Kansas and he was being treated in Montana.  While researching, I found that the mortality rate for young people with multiple myeloma was low. All was going well.  He would call me now and then to update me.  However, like my mother, he had made a mess of his life.  His three children were taken from him and he hid this from me.  I was furious because I could have helped him.

I spoke to him in the fall of 2006.  I learned he was divorced again. One cold winter day a few months later, I had a message on my answering machine from a doctor.  It was vague but he asked me to return the call.  Imagine my surprise when the person answering my call informed me it was the coroner’s office.  I was still baffled until the doctor informed me that he had Tim’s body.  He had died from his cancer.

I frantically phoned the hospital searching for any information.  The information they could give me was limited due to confidentiality, but Tim knew he was dying and chose not to tell any of his family.  He died alone in a hospital.  That crushed me, tore at my heart and made me rage in anger at my now deceased brother.  I would have been there for him; I would have gone and held his hand.  I would have told him I loved him as he took his last breaths, but he never gave me the opportunity.   Even now, eight years later, my heart hurts when I think of that last selfish act of his.  Yes, I believe it was selfish. What he did hurt me and my father in a way that I can not fully describe.  It left a wound that will never heal.

Speaking to the hospital staff, it was clear that they had offered to contact us but he refused.  He refused pastoral care as well.  The irony of him instructing them to contact me only upon his death was cruel and so unlike the sweet boy I had been a second mother to when we were growing up.  It’s so hard to write about this because my heart breaks all over again.

Two short years later my father received the terminal diagnosis of breast cancer.  Yes, men can and do develop breast cancer.  They can and do die from it too.  He had a lump in his breast that he had ignored for a very long time and by the time he had a diagnosis, it was too late.  Shortly after he received that diagnosis he had a debilitating stroke.  He went from living independently and hitch-hiking from town to town in rural Minnesota to losing the use of his right side. His ability to communicate through speech was greatly diminished as well.

young_old_handWhen I received the call that my father wouldn’t last much longer, I packed up my three older children and we drove up to Minnesota.  We stayed with one of my dad’s friends.  During the day my children and I took turns sitting with my father.  When it was clear the end was near, my children and I waited with my father. The nuns from the church had come to his room and were praying the rosary with us.  I held his hand as he took his last breaths.  He had endured the pain and refused to complain as the cancer had invaded his body.  He tolerated the indignity of having to have all of his needs attended by others.  I have no doubt he offered up all of this and in doing so his soul grew closer to God.

The lesson I learned from losing three people I loved so much was that one’s death can either strengthen or weaken those they leave behind.  It can break their hearts for years or leave them with peace.  My mother’s death caused me to develop a respect for her I had never had before.  My brother’s death destroyed me and the relationship I thought I had with him.  My father’s death left me with peace.  He died surrounded by people he loved the most, praying as his soul left his body.  He had received Last Rites the prior day.  I can’t think of a better way to end one’s days and I hope God grants me the kind of death my father had.

All three of them faced the pain of their respective cancers with courage and dignity.  They did not flee from the pain or end their lives prematurely by their own hands.  They conquered pain and embraced the natural culmination of their time on earth.  They taught me acceptance in the face of fear.  For that, I will be forever grateful.

patty 1

 

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Abortion Ink Slingers NFP and contraceptives Patty Respect Life

Dispelling the Myths about Emergency Contraceptives and IUDs

I recall five years ago when I was working at a Catholic hospital as an RN, contraception was not covered by our insurance. Yet, none of the female employees realized there was a silent ‘war on women’ taking place. The women who wanted birth control were still able to get prescriptions from physicians not affiliated with the hospital and they bought what they wanted. We accepted that a CATHOLIC business had the right to operate according to CATHOLIC beliefs. Thanks to Obamacare, suddenly birth control was supposed to be 100% free and it was an attack on women’s rights to claim the right to religious freedom that had henceforth been taken for granted.

prescription 1

As a nurse, that ‘free’ part really gets me. If you want to give a medication away, how about one that has the potential to save millions of lives?

Antibiotics,

blood pressure medications,

diabetes medications…but, BIRTH CONTROL?

I never once cared for a woman who died as a result of having to pay for her birth control, but I did care for many who died because they couldn’t afford the above mentioned items.

Following the Hobby Lobby case when SCOTUS determined that the owners of businesses still do have religious rights, there was much anger regarding the forms of birth control that Hobby Lobby was morally opposed to. Contrary to the hysteria and misinformation, Hobby Lobby was not arguing that they did not want to cover ALL birth control. In fact, they did and still do cover 16 different forms, but they opposed covering four types of ‘birth control’ that they believe can or does end a newly conceived human life.

I would like to describe each method Hobby Lobby opposed as well as the information supporting the belief that these methods do, indeed, as stated by the manufacturers, end a human life – which would be the life created at conception – the moment the sperm fertilizes the egg.

Some might be muttering that conception does not occur until the fertilized egg implants in the uterus.  A little known fact might surprise you – guess who it was that decided to try and change the definition of conception from occurring at the time of fertilization to occurring at implantation in the womb?

This redefinition of conception started in 1959 when Dr. Bent Boving revealed at a Planned Parenthood symposium* that there was “the social advantage of (implantation preventatives) being considered to prevent conception rather than destroy an established pregnancy.” Six years later, ACOG (American Academy of Gynecologists) happily redefined conception, much to the delight of Planned Parenthood. Their argument is that since conception can’t be detected until implantation, it doesn’t exist. With that reasoning, cancer doesn’t exist until it’s detected either…right?

Dispelling the Myths about Emergency Contraceptives and IUDs

I will list the four types of contraception and provide manufacturer’s information to support that these methods include mechanisms which halt the natural progression of that fertilized egg. I also included information on some of the incredibly terrifying side effects of these methods. The source of information I used is basically ‘the horse’s mouth’, the FDA which gave the stamp of approval to each one of these methods. The website I used for the two drugs is from Access Data. All of the sources I used include manufacturer’s information on each drug which is similar, if not exactly, to what you would see on a package insert included with certain medications.

Plan B- Contraindications (to the use of this drug)-“Pregnancy or suspected pregnancy”

Plan BNow, I found this information interesting- the manufacturer states that ectopic pregnancies occur in 2% of pregnancies but in women who use this drug, ectopic pregnancies occur in TEN PERCENT of women. A five-fold increase. Now, that sure sounds safe!

Mechanism of action: [what the drug does] It states the primary mechanism is preventing ovulation or fertilization [Much like the majority of birth control pills] “In addition, it may inhibit implantation (by altering the endometrium). It is not as effective once the process of implantation has begun.

So, if the drug doesn’t work by preventing ovulation it makes the womb inhospitable to the fertilized egg, the new life will DIE. Questions? Sounds pretty straightforward to me. A little FYI- the active ingredient in Plan B is a high dose of Levonorgestrel. This same ingredient is solely present in lower doses, with the same mechanism in Mirena, Norplant, Opcicon one-step, Skyla, Fallback solo, and Jadelle. It is also present with other another ingredient in 39 other forms of birth control.

Ella: Contraindications-Known or suspected pregnancy

Warnings and precautions: Ella is not indicated for termination of an existing pregnancy. Exclude pregnancy before administering. (VERY interesting statement for a drug meant to ‘prevent’ pregnancy) Ella is also considered an emergency contraceptive, just like Plan B.

Mechanism of action: “When taken immediately before ovulation is to occur, Ella postpones follicular rupture. The likely primary mechanism of action of ulipristal acetate for emergency contraception is therefore inhibitions or delay of ovulation; HOWEVER, alterations to the endometrium that may affect implantation may also contribute to efficacy. (what else would implant in the womb other than a fertilized egg?)

COPPER IUD aka Paragard:

IUDI had to go to drugs.com for this one.
Clinical pharmacology: (The way it works) “The contraceptive effectiveness of Paragard is enhanced by copper continuously released into the uterine cavity. Mechanism(s) by which copper enhances contraceptive efficacy include interference with sperm transport and fertilization of an egg, and possibly prevention of implantation.”

Has anyone else noticed that each one of the items make the
abortifacient effect of the drug/device appear to be a ‘oh, by the way…’

Contraindications: Pregnancy or suspicion of pregnancy.

Warnings: Intrauterine pregnancy: “the risk of spontaneous abortion (their word), premature delivery, sepsis, septic shock, and rarely, death. Removal may be followed by pregnancy loss.” It also goes on to say that an ectopic pregnancy is more likely when using this device. There is an increased ‘relative risk’ of pelvic inflammatory disease compared to other forms of contraception or no contraception. The IUD can become embedded in the uterus requiring surgical removal or it can perforate the uterine wall or cervix. “The copper of a perforated Paragard IUD can lead to intraperitoneal adhesions, intestinal penetration, intestinal obstruction, and/or damage to adjacent organs may result if an IUD is left in the peritoneal cavity.”

For more reading on intrauterine devices, please read here.

IUD with progestin aka Mirena: The mechanism of action as described here is interesting.

They basically say they aren’t sure how it works but – ‘the local mechanism by which continuously released levonorgestrel enhances contraceptive effectiveness of Mirena has not been conclusively demonstrated. Studies of Mirena prototypes have suggested several mechanisms that prevent pregnancy: thickening of cervical mucus preventing passage of sperm into the uterus, inhibition of sperm capacitation or survival, and alteration of the endomentrium. (Note that the drug in Mirena is the SAME ONE used in Plan B, the ‘emergency contraceptive’.) I found a much more honest explanation of how Mirena and Paragard work on WebMD. “The hormone also changes the lining of the uterus, so implantation of a fertilized egg cannot occur.”

Warnings for Mirena are virtually identical to those of Paragard which you can view in the PDF above.

As an RN and a woman, the risks of using chemical and mechanical forms of birth control like the IUD are absolutely unacceptable. Possible infertility, sepsis, fatal blood clots and death are just not acceptable risks to take in order to avoid pregnancy and be able to ‘do the deed’ whenever one wants. This is why Natural family planning is so fantastic. The effectiveness of NFP, when performed properly (no cheating, follow the rules) is 99%.  Every time this is brought up in the mainstream media certain ‘doctors’ and the general public cry out that it’s too complicated to do. I find that interesting since uneducated women in third world countries are able to effectively use NFP, but here in the U.S. women just aren’t smart enough?!? Yeah…right. I call that a war on women’s intelligence!

There is something I don’t understand about this whole Hobby Lobby thing- why they are not opposed to hormonal birth control when it contains the same mechanism of making the endometrial lining inhospitable to a fertilized egg? “The lining of the uterus thins, making it less likely that a fertilized egg can attach to it.”

That just doesn’t make sense. What does make sense is why Planned Parenthood wanted to change the definition of conception. When you look at the original and only true definition it becomes crystal clear that, with very few exceptions, the majority of contraception methods include the mechanism of being an abortifacient therefore, can and do end a human life.

 

*Bent Boving, “Implantation Mechanisms,” in Mechanisms Concerned with Conception, ed. C. G. Hartman (New York: Pergamon Press, 1963), 386. Boving acknowledged (p. 321): “… the greatest pregnancy wastage, in fact, by far the highest death rate of the entire human life span, is during the week before and including the beginning of implantation, and the next greatest is in the week immediately following.”

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Ink Slingers Patty

History lesson

History was my first love as a child. As far back as I could remember my father would bring home The National Geographic and even before I could read I would spend hours and hours poring over the photos and later the articles. I was fascinated by the powerful words that created the stories of what had happened in the distant and recent past and the lessons we had (or hoped to have) learned from those who had long since died. Simply put History Is Awesome. If I could have chosen a different occupation in life, archaeology would have definitely been one of those choices.


So what have we learned from the past in this country and in our lives? We live in a country that has been slowly but methodically peeling away layer after layer of our constitutional rights until they are threatened to be taken away altogether.

Recently in New Jersey a case came before Judge Solomon A. Metzger. A lesbian couple wanted to rent facilities to celebrate their civil ‘union’ in Ocean Grove New Jersey. The facilities they wanted to rent are owned by the Ocean Grove Camp meeting association, which in turn is associated with the United Methodist Church, a Christian organization that believes that ‘the practice of homosexuality is incompatible with Christian teaching’ and that, ‘ceremonies that celebrate homosexual unions shall not be conducted by our ministers and shall not be conducted in our churches.’ In keeping with their teaching, the association had declined to rent their facilities out to these two women. The women sued claiming discrimination based on their sexual orientation. The judge ruled for the women and against the association. In his ruling he made some rather astounding claims.

Statement #1 Judge Metzger states that, ‘this isn’t a case of religious liberty.’ Hold the presses, did I miss something?!? The church cited their spiritual beliefs and yet he is claiming that this isn’t about the free exercise of religion? What IS it about then if it isn’t about making decisions based on firmly held religious beliefs?

Statement #2 (and this one that really shocked me) was his claim that the free exercise of religion was not factored into his decision but rather: ‘a much lower standard that tolerates some intrusion into religious freedom to balance other important societal goals.’ Wait, I thought this WASN’T about religious freedom. I would certainly agree with him on part of his statement. It is a much, much LOWER standard that he is trying to support. In fact, I feel completely justified in saying that the standard he is basing his ruling on is entirely and completely unconstitutional.

This is certainly not the first time that an organization or individuals have been legally pummeled and fined for refusing to compromise on their religious beliefs. The Health and human services department, run by one of the worst Catholics of our day-Kathleen Sebelius, is going to attempt to force Catholic Institutions from Hospitals to Colleges to small parochial schools to cover artificial contraception and sterilization procedures under their health insurance plans. The Church has never wavered on her belief or teachings that the use of artificial contraception and sterilizations to prevent birth is inherently wrong and immoral. The religious exclusions to this are so narrowly defined that few, if any Church run organizations would qualify. In essence, to qualify the organization would have to fire all non-Catholic employees, refuse to serve anyone BUT Catholics and their primary purpose must be spreading the faith. Now, if this is not intrusion into the free exercise of religion, what is? Where in the constitution does it say that your religious freedoms end if you employ or serve a person not of your faith?

Now I have a history assignment for all of you. Do a little bit of research and find out what happens to the free exercise of religion in countries where behavior or decisions based on religious beliefs are no longer respected or tolerated. Start with Nazi Germany in WWII, move over to China and Mexico in the early 1900’s and then take a peek at Russia and the Soviet Union. Get back to me and let me know how many of these countries have not prosecuted and persecuted churches, their clergy and parishioners both in and out of courts. Tell me if our country isn’t going down the same path these other countries have already travelled and if we are, reveal to me how we won’t end up with an almost complete loss of the right to practice and live the way our faith dictates.
‘Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.’ George Santayana.

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Ink Slingers Patty

THE virtue for women.

Last week I came upon a news article which caused my jaw to drop and overwhelmed me with the desire to purge the accompanying image from my mind. The article concerned an 18 year old high school senior named Sydney who presented a very inappropriate photo to the Durango Colorado High school editorial staff for her yearbook photo. I’m sure Sydney would be thrilled to have me post the photo here…

Now, I would like to clarify what I mean by ‘inappropriate’. This young woman wore a mini-skirt while her top was comprised of a narrow black scarf strategically placed and knotted in front with the ends clutched in her hands. Add to this her very provocative pose with her ‘bootie’ (quite an appropriate term in this instance) sticking out and you have a photo that would be more suited as an ad for a strip joint rather than a High School yearbook. I asked both my 15 and 17 year old daughters their opinion of this photo and their response was unanimous. ‘Disgusting.’

I enthusiastically applaud the wisdom of the Durango High School yearbook editorial staff for recognizing the overt inappropriateness of this photo and refusing to run it as the girl’s yearbook photo. This is all the more impressive due to the fact that the staff is entirely comprised of Syndey’s fellow students. KUDOS!

I have difficulty deciding which person to direct my disgust at in regards to this incident. Sydney is after all, is considered a ‘legal’ adult and should certainly be held responsible for her deplorable decision to have this photo taken and then to request that it be her yearbook photo. However, the article clearly states that Sydney’s mother not only approves of this photo but is claiming that the refusal to print it violates her daughter’s constitutional right to ‘freedom of expression’ to which I respond, ‘Oh PUHLEEZE!’ The freedom of expression is encompassed in the First amendment by the freedoms of speech, press, assembly and to petition. The fact that the Supreme Court took this to mean all sorts of immoral photos, articles and movies are protected by the First Amendment really does defy logic and common sense. I can only imagine what the Founding Fathers would think if they were to know how this Amendment has been warped and twisted into meaning something that was never intended.

At some point in my early teens I was given a Holy card that I have still to this day, mostly due to the fact that is covered by some kind of indestructible plastic envelope but also because of how differently I view what is written on this card now than when I was 14. The front of the card is a picture of St. John Chrysostom. On the back this is printed with the title, ‘Women’s Dress’.

“You carry your snare everywhere and spread your nets in all places. You allege that you never invited others to sin. You did not, indeed, by your words, but you have done so by your dress and your deportment, and much more effectively than you could by your voice. When you have made another sin in his heart, how can you be innocent? Tell me, whom does this world condemn? Whom do judges in court punish? Those who drink poison or those who prepare it and administer the fatal potion? You have prepared the abominable cup, you have given the death-dealing drink, and you are more criminal than are those who poison the body; you murder not the body, but the soul. And it is not to enemies that you do this, nor are you urged on by any imaginary necessity, nor provoked by injury, but out of foolish vanity and pride.”

–St. John Chrysostom (d. 407A.D.)

When I was a 14 year old Catholic schoolgirl I found this piece to be insulting to females. How dare St. John condemn females for the sins of males? Can’t they just avert their eyes and look elsewhere? Can’t they divert their thoughts to those other than of impurity? Why should I have to wear more clothing because males can’t control themselves?

I truly was naïve both about how dramatically men are influenced by visual stimulation and my responsibility for dressing modestly when in their presence. I don’t believe I wrapped my mind around this concept until I was about 28 years old. Prior to that I would on occasion, wear short skirts simply because I knew they looked good on my trim figure. My mantra was, ‘if you’ve got it, flaunt it!’ Oh, I was such a fool. I do not recall if it was something I read or something someone said to me, but I came to the realization that I did have a responsibility to cover myself modestly and I was also culpable if a man was led to impure thoughts as a result of my refusal to do so. A survey that was done of young Christian men found that 95% of these young men found modesty to be an important quality they sought in a future wife.

Now I have two teenaged daughters with whom I have an ongoing struggle over my demand for them to dress in a way that does not diminish their value as females. They, like I as a teenager, do not fully comprehend the effect their dress has on the males. However, they have the counsel (so, they call it nagging) from a mother who is teaching them just this fact and who also refuses to allow them to become the cause of the lascivious mental meanderings of a fellow male student as the result of their immodest attire. They can not claim ignorance and I will persist in reminding them of their responsibility to dress appropriately.

This is a difficult battle to wage in a society where teenage girls and women were less and less clothing, television and movies routinely portray scantily clad women and the stores promote this by making modest clothing difficult if not impossible to find. This pervasive acceptance of immodesty in dress is evident everywhere we look. In a public high school back where I lived in Topeka I witnessed girls with plunging necklines, bare midriffs and skirts/bottoms barely (and sometimes not) covering their bottoms…in school. I uttered many a prayer that these young ladies not feel compelled to bend over to pick up a dropped item. In the Catholic High School, despite a dress code that required shorts and skirts to be a certain length, the girls would surreptitiously roll over the waist of their skort/shorts to shorten their length by several inches. I have attended First communion mass in which several of the young first communicants, usually about the age of 6 were wearing off the shoulder dresses…picked out by their mothers, no doubt. I have gone to Sunday masses in which I was surrounded by young and older women flaunting figure hugging tops and bottoms, short skirts and plunging necklines. I have often wondered at the temptations assaulting the poor parish priest as these women approach him for communion. This is attire completely and utterly inappropriate for attendance at church. ALWAYS.

I must wonder at how girls and women can value themselves as females even as they attempt to ‘visually sell’ their bodies to anyone who cares to glance their way. I pity those who do not find value in preserving their innocence and the purity of those who look at them. I pity the mothers of girls and teens who both allow and encourage their daughters to flaunt their bodies inappropriately. They will have to stand before the throne of God one day and explain why they so brazenly sacrificed their daughter’s innocence in the name of ‘fashion’. I pray that I continue to be vigilant as a mother and as a woman and treasure modesty as the virtue it is. Modesty is not just a virtue to be practiced by Catholic women but women of all creeds for we all benefit from when it is practiced.